$80,000 too much for campus rebranding campaign
by Bryan Weismiller
Mount Royal proverb: If a large stack of cash falls in Wyckham House does anyone notice?
That’s the $80,000 question as the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University looks into re-branding its organization. Council is meeting on April 11 to discuss the implementation of a new logo, which comes with a $20,000 price tag. The remaining funds are slated for new signs, posters, letterheads, and updating the website, amongst other things.
“Everything, everywhere is being re-branded,” as Meghan Melynk, students’ association VP external said. “…I think we do a lot of good work and I think that — as far as it goes — we aren’t as visible on campus as we could be.”
To put things into perspective, Mount Royal University also spent somewhere between $79-80,000 implementing its new brand in 2009, according to Lucille Gnanasihamany, director of marketing at Mount Royal. Melnyk said the students’ association would allow their current inventory to run out before making any changes, much like the institution, so the price of printing does not factor in.
I think that’s a considerable amount of money to gamble on breathing life into a notoriously apathetic student body. Melnyk’s appraisal that the current campus culture could be more visible with a re-branding campaign is an understatement given that participation in past SA elections has been embarrassingly low.
Starting in 2008, the SA elections have received voter turnouts of 10.22, 5.53, 8.27 and 7.95 per cent of the student body, respectively. This year’s poll numbers felt particularly depressing, after witnessing the enthusiasm surrounding former MRU professor Naheed Nenshi’s rise to municipal power.
“They have struggled as almost every students’ association across Canada has struggled with voter turnout in elections and levels of student engagement,” said Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University. “I don’t know if spending money on a re-branding campaign will work or not.”
We’ve always attributed MRU’s apathy to it being a commuter campus with transitional programs. It’s time to start looking at the real reasons why students aren’t engaged. I don’t think flashy posters and marketing ploys are the right answer. Take the “vote naked,” campaign for instance. The polling numbers don’t show any increase voter turnout, and they went slightly down. If anything, it’s done permanent damage to those who can’t erase memories of seeing SA president Robert Jones shirtless.
Melnyk described getting a new logo as the Red Bull needed to jump start a new way of getting people interested and engaged. However, much like an energy drink, I foresee the re-branding campaign as being an overpriced boost leading to an inevitable crash.